What's left for the Optima Opus' (#500 - #544)/ Lifetime assignments, in service dates, retirements

101 posts in this topic

Posted

Since the Optimas are about to retire this year or next. I'm putting together a list of in service dates, retirements so far and lifetime assignments. Let's start with the in service and retirement list so far.

(last updated 3/1/14)

#500 in service 11/27/07 on #2 (was used as a prototype as early as 6/17/06 but not put into revenue service until 11/27/07); on long term hold early 1/14
#501 in service 10/12/06 on #172; put on long term hold 10/13
#502 in service 10/16/06 #173; put on long term hold early 1/14
#503 in service 10/16/06 on #173, on long term hold 9/7/13, retired by 1/14
#504 in service 10/16/06 on #171; put on long term hold early 1/14
#505 in service 10/2/06 on #171; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#506 in service 10/2/06 on #171; retired 1/14
#507 in service 10/11/06 on #173; put on long term hold 10/13
#508 in service 10/16/06 on #170; put on long term hold 1/14
#509 in service 10/16/06 on #173; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#510 in service 10/2/06 on #173; put on long term hold 10/13
#511 in service 9/8/07 on #174; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#512 in service 2/1/07 on #173
#513 in service 1/2/07 on #90N; put on long term hold 10/13
#514 in service 2/26/07 on #173, in storage 1/1/13; retired by 1/14
#515 in service 1/4/07 on #84, starting early July 2013, it's being used as a Ventra promotional vehicle, out of service; it's status is retired
#516 in service 1/4/07 on #88, starting early July 2013, it's being used as a Ventra promotional vehicle, out of service; it's status is retired

post-304-0-24530500-1394126400_thumb.jpg


#517 in service 1/30/07 on #56A; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#518 in service 1/30/07 on #81W; put on long term hold 10/13
#519 in service 1/4/07 at garage; put on long term hold early 1/14
#520 in service 3/21/07 on #81W; put on long term hold 10/13
#521 in service 12/27/06 at Harlem/Blue line (test bus for FG); put on long term hold 10/13
#522 in service 4/13/07 on #64; put on long term hold 10/13
#523 in service 1/4/07 on #85A; put on long term hold 10/13
#524 in service 1/30/07 on #90N; put on long term hold 10/13
#525 in service 1/10/07 on #81W; put on long term hold 1/14
#526 in service 4/12/07 on #201; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#527 in service 9/27/07 on #56A; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#528 in service 3/25/07 at garage; put on long term hold 10/13
#529 in service 3/25/07 at garage; retired 1/16/13
#530 in service 7/9/07 on #64; put on long term hold 1/14
#531 in service 7/11/07 on #88; put on long term hold 10/13
#532 in service 6/12/07 on #90N; put on long term hold 10/13; retired 1/14
#533 in service 9/9/07 on #11; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#534 in service 4/12/07 on #206; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#535 in service 5/22/07 on #96; put on long term hold 10/13
#536 in service 5/3/07 on #201; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#537 in service 5/11/07 on #201; put on long term hold 10/13
#538 in service 3/16/08 on #11; put on long term hold 10/13
#539 in service 7/11/07 on #96; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#540 in service 7/22/07 on #11; put on long term hold 2/21/14
#541 in service 9/9/07 on #11; put on long term hold 10/13
#542 in service 10/20/07 on #93; put on long term hold 10/13
#543 in service 5/22/07 on #96; put on long term hold 10/13
#544 in service 6/27/06 on #143; put on long term hold 10/13

Here is a lifetime assignment list up to the present (7/3/13)

#500 assignments Oct 2006 to Feb 2010.pdf

#500's assignments Feb 2010 to present.pdf

Present is 1/16/13; final assignment list coming soon

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Posted

Did you guys know an Optima was retired off the latest bus roster and one was put in storage? #544 is the one that's retired, and #514 is the one in storage. BTW, no Novas have yet to be retired. (other than the ones we know about) Another weird note, the roster doesn't reflect #4300-#4302, #4305 as yet in existence at least at 103rd. Strange some of those must still be at 77th. I believe Pace2322 did mention a few of those there.

I think despite them being the shortest buses on the roster, it is a waste of money to retire and scrap them at just six years of age. There are plenty of small distance or low bus quantity routes that could use these buses after the University Of Chicago routes are no longer serviced by the CTA.

-54A North Cicero/Skokie Blvd.(I've seen Optimas on this route and parked by the Kennedy Expy. where the 54A starts)

-55A 55th/Austin(only two buses assigned to this route currently)

-55N 55th/Narragansett(only two buses assigned to this route currently)

-68 Northwest Highway(only two buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-81W West Lawrence(only three buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-85A North Central(only two buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-88 Higgins(only three buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-95W West 95th(only three buses assigned to this route currently)

-96 Lunt(only three buses assigned to this route currently)

-201 Central/Ridge(only three buses assigned to this route currently)

-205 Chicago/Golf(only two buses assigned to this route currently, both are Optimas)

-206 Evanston Circulator(only three buses assigned to this route currently, two of which are Optimas)

I think these routes can use Optimas in partial or full capacity after the University routes end. I think the CTA is throwing away money used to buy buses six years early, IMO. I know forum members call them "clown buses" becase of the funny way they're painted, but they are pretty reliable, despite being only 30' in length and the odd livery design.

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Posted

Probably when the U of C routes end, we'll be seeing some more retired. These buses just don't have a place anymore. Too much service has been cut. FG probably will get all of what's left by then. CTA doesn't seem interested in putting them out by Midway and they definitely won't be using them for the Red line shutdown!! :lol:

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Posted

Probably when the U of C routes end, we'll be seeing some more retired. These buses just don't have a place anymore. Too much service has been cut. FG probably will get all of what's left by then. CTA doesn't seem interested in putting them out by Midway and they definitely won't be using them for the Red line shutdown!! :lol:

Besides that the 55s are interlined with 59, according to the run number blocks.

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Posted

I dont even pay any attention to the Optimas. I could care less if CTA gets rid of them!

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Posted

I dont even pay any attention to the Optimas. I could care less if CTA gets rid of them!

Me niether I can't wait till they get rid of them completely I drove that bus once in training and thank God that was the only time lol.

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Posted

I think despite them being the shortest buses on the roster, it is a waste of money to retire and scrap them at just six years of age. There are plenty of small distance or low bus quantity routes that could use these buses after the University Of Chicago routes are no longer serviced by the CTA.

-54A North Cicero/Skokie Blvd.(I've seen Optimas on this route and parked by the Kennedy Expy. where the 54A starts)

-55A 55th/Austin(only two buses assigned to this route currently)

-55N 55th/Narragansett(only two buses assigned to this route currently)

-68 Northwest Highway(only two buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-81W West Lawrence(only three buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-85A North Central(only two buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-88 Higgins(only three buses assigned to this route currently, one of which is an Optima)

-95W West 95th(only three buses assigned to this route currently)

-96 Lunt(only three buses assigned to this route currently)

-201 Central/Ridge(only three buses assigned to this route currently)

-205 Chicago/Golf(only two buses assigned to this route currently, both are Optimas)

-206 Evanston Circulator(only three buses assigned to this route currently, two of which are Optimas)

I think these routes can use Optimas in partial or full capacity after the University routes end. I think the CTA is throwing away money used to buy buses six years early, IMO. I know forum members call them "clown buses" becase of the funny way they're painted, but they are pretty reliable, despite being only 30' in length and the odd livery design.

I can't comment on the other routes you have on here but as far as the 95W is concerned that wouldn't work out. For one the ridership on that route is not light at all especially during rush hour and just during the week day alone the optima's wouldn't work. I do 95W on Sundays and I still get quite a few people coming out of 95th. So I would have to disagree with you about the Optima's being used on that route and not to mention the streets and railroad crossings that little bus would be bouncing as if it had hydrolics on it lol.

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Posted

Short distance or number of buses assigned to a route has nothing to do with whether or not an Optima should be assigned. It's just a matter of ridership.

The 120 series downtown shuttle routes are fairly short distance routes, but you wouldn't want to put Optimas on those because they do pretty good business.

The X98 only ever has one bus assigned to it at a time, but even there, an Optima wouldn't suffice.

On the other hand, back when North Park had them, they were often assigned to the 93 on Saturdays and 11 on Sundays. Not short routes, and each had at least 5-6 buses each, but the ridership was low enough that you could use the Optimas and not even come close to filling them.

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Posted

I never found those buses at all interesting!

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Posted

I never found those buses at all interesting!

You mean not even the seal balancing the CTA ball on its nose? :D

As I figure it, either they serve an operational need or not. Compared to the Pace 30 footers of various lengths, apparently they do not (or at least won't after the 170s are dead).

Again, you have to wonder what whoever in procurement was smoking, when they advertised for up to 125 of them.

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Posted

I never found those buses at all interesting!

FINALLY! I thought it was just me. Furthermore, nothing that small; airport shuttles, school buses, do I consider a bus. They are modified straight trucks and vans. It always struck me funny for someone to cram air brakes, air suspension and diesel engines into a small-bodied vehicle.

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FINALLY! I thought it was just me. Furthermore, nothing that small; airport shuttles, school buses, do I consider a bus. They are modified straight trucks and vans. It always struck me funny for someone to cram air brakes, air suspension and diesel engines into a small-bodied vehicle.

As opposed to a Fred Flintstone vehicle. Yabba Dabba Do.

This was a proven English design (as is the Alexander Dennis currently being peddled by New Flyer), and the only question seems to be whether CTA could make use of it.

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Did you guys know an Optima was retired off the latest bus roster and one was put in storage? #544 is the one that's retired, and #514 is the one in storage. BTW, no Novas have yet to be retired. (other than the ones we know about) Another weird note, the roster doesn't reflect #4300-#4302, #4305 as yet in existence at least at 103rd. Strange some of those must still be at 77th. I believe Pace2322 did mention a few of those there.

#544 is not retired. It is currently operating on the 206 Evanston Circulator.

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Posted

I just know FG should stop letting one slip out to do service on the 84 as that route is not exactly of low enough ridership to justify the use of one, at least not on a weekday. I mentioned on the "Random CTA" thread how I had the luck of boarding one on Monday morning to ride from Clark to California (Bus 542). The whole time I was riding I kept thinking what was the driver smoking to pull away from the garage in one when he knew he was going to be doing a trip or two on Peterson since even on that short ride the bus was on the verge of being crowded from being so darn small compared against the ridership of the route. And what was whoever at the garage is in charge of what buses go on what routes smoking to allow it? Also good luck with seeing any on 201 since NP isn't likely to pick up Optimas again. And I could believe they made a good fit on 93 on Saturdays during the period NP did have them, but ridership from what I see of living just east of the 93 seems to have picked up enough that that would no longer be the case today.

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#544 is not retired. It is currently operating on the 206 Evanston Circulator.

Hmm... that was what I read anyway. Maybe it was a different FG Optima. Well have to see what turns up and what don't.

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Posted

Short distance or number of buses assigned to a route has nothing to do with whether or not an Optima should be assigned. It's just a matter of ridership.

The 120 series downtown shuttle routes are fairly short distance routes, but you wouldn't want to put Optimas on those because they do pretty good business.

The X98 only ever has one bus assigned to it at a time, but even there, an Optima wouldn't suffice.

On the other hand, back when North Park had them, they were often assigned to the 93 on Saturdays and 11 on Sundays. Not short routes, and each had at least 5-6 buses each, but the ridership was low enough that you could use the Optimas and not even come close to filling them.

Well maybe not all those routes are capable of using Optimas, but I'm sure some are. As indicated about the early demise of the 7500's for safety reasons though here, retiring the Optimas at just six years of age is a waste of funds and taxpayers money. There is nothing wrong with them, unlike the NABI's. Are they limited on what routes they can run on? Yes, but several of the mentioned routes above could probably run them until 2018, which is the 12-year lifespan, and FTA requirement for buses purchased with Federal money, and according to this press release, these buses were purchased with a grant through the RTA. I don't know if it's a full 17.2 million spent on these buses since the base order was for 50, and we only have 45, so knock off some money for less five buses and that's probably 12-14 million for the 45 in revenue service that will be retired at the six year mark. I think the CTA could find routes that can use them for another six years, they just choose not to and I wonder how that will sit with the FTA and RTA that they're throwing money away on buses that have nothing wrong with them(unlike the NABI's). The only blemish is the size, but the CTA knew that going in. Why didn't they look for narrow 40' buses then to replace the TMC(4900's) and Orion I(4915's) then, or procure some New Flyer D35LF's at the time?

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Why didn't they look for narrow 40' buses then to replace the TMC(4900's) and Orion I(4915's) then, or procure some New Flyer D35LF's at the time?

What I'd like to know is why didn't the CTA do their research/homework and see that these buses are inferior. As soon as I took my first trip, I had my doubts about this bus. I mean you can just see it. The chassis is too small to support a bus. It's like a bus on a car frame. I can see why they call these clown buses, but I call them stage coaches because they bounce like one. I bet if these would have been something else, they would be sticking around. I was on one a couple weeks ago that the frame was hitting the ground. I guess that's why they won't be buying NABI anytime soon.

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Me niether I can't wait till they get rid of them completely I drove that bus once in training and thank God that was the only time lol.

Well, I was at Jefferson Park (Blue Line) Terminal for little while around PM Rush and never saw any 500s and I don't care at all neither, they might as well retired all and sell them.

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Well, I was at Jefferson Park (Blue Line) Terminal for little while around PM Rush and never saw any 500s and I don't care at all neither, they might as well retired all and sell them.

For that matter, the CTA might as well discontinue the operation of some of its lower-ridership routes and send all or most of them to Pace or a third-party contractor like First Transit or MV Transportation. After all, if a route gathers such low ridership that any 40-foot buses end up nearly empty at all times that they are operated on such a route, then it's a total waste of money.

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Why didn't they look for narrow 40' buses then to replace the TMC(4900's) and Orion I(4915's) then, or procure some New Flyer D35LF's at the time?

Because the main constraint for the U of C routes was width given that they were running them on residential streets in Hyde Park. They advertised for a 96" bus, and the best that was available was the Optima at 99. None of the "heavy duty" 35 or 40 foot low floor buses was or is other than 102".

You probably could have said the same for Evanston (I noted way back that Ridge Ave. was not wide enough for two buses), but CTA gave up on that, too.

So, the only issue is whether a 3 inch narrower bus can squeeze through. BusHunter noted an issue on the new 81W.

I guess that's why they won't be buying NABI anytime soon.

They weren't NABI when CTA ordered them. but a separate company in Kansas. Cerberus bought them and merged them with NABI. But (1) as far as I can tell from the nabusind site NABI doesn't make them any more, and (2) I thought that CTA had about $101 million other reasons not to buy NABI.

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Because the main constraint for the U of C routes was width given that they were running them on residential streets in Hyde Park. They advertised for a 96" bus, and the best that was available was the Optima at 99. None of the "heavy duty" 35 or 40 foot low floor buses was or is other than 102".

That point is moot because looking at Bustracker right now, I see 1488 on the 171 and 1817 on the 172. Both are 40' New Flyers that are 102". These routes apparently can run full width buses, otherwise why are there New Flyer D40LF's on them??? Again, CTA knew what they were getting when they ordered buses that were 30' and 99" in length with RTA grants which will be thrown away six years before FTA 12-year guidlines. If there are routes that can still use these buses, why throw away federal money? It's bad enough they were forced to with the buses that required band-aids, duct tape and crazy glue to keep together, but aside from some shock issues(which PACE has with their NABI's, but I don't see them retiring them early), why retire otherwise good running buses before the FTA mandate?

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That point is moot because looking at Bustracker right now, I see 1488 on the 171 and 1817 on the 172. Both are 40' New Flyers that are 102". These routes apparently can run full width buses, otherwise why are there New Flyer D40LF's on them??? Again, CTA knew what they were getting when they ordered buses that were 30' and 99" in length with RTA grants which will be thrown away six years before FTA 12-year guidlines. If there are routes that can still use these buses, why throw away federal money? It's bad enough they were forced to with the buses that required band-aids, duct tape and crazy glue to keep together, but aside from some shock issues(which PACE has with their NABI's, but I don't see them retiring them early), why retire otherwise good running buses before the FTA mandate?

Because they are horrible buses lol but seriously it's really no good use for the Optima's anymore even the routes they're used on such as the 170 routes you still see New Flyer's on those as well on weekends the 500's aren't even used they're just sitting there at the garage, which in my opinion is awesome cause that means I don't have to worry about driving those things. They always seem more like experimental buses to me, they're too bouncy and it's uncomfortable for passengers and drivers alike. Even though they are only 6yrs old they have served their short purpose and now it's time for them to go. Once those. Buses are gone I seriously doubt if cta will ever order 30ft buses again. R.I.P optima 500 series buses you wont be missed at all lol.

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That point is moot because looking at Bustracker right now, I see 1488 on the 171 and 1817 on the 172. Both are 40' New Flyers that are 102". These routes apparently can run full width buses, otherwise why are there New Flyer D40LF's on them??? Again, CTA knew what they were getting when they ordered buses that were 30' and 99" in length with RTA grants which will be thrown away six years before FTA 12-year guidlines. If there are routes that can still use these buses, why throw away federal money? It's bad enough they were forced to with the buses that required band-aids, duct tape and crazy glue to keep together, but aside from some shock issues(which PACE has with their NABI's, but I don't see them retiring them early), why retire otherwise good running buses before the FTA mandate?

1. Nobody knows whether Kruesi's staff knew anything.

2. If it were RTA grants, as opposed to FTA 5307 grants going directly to the CTA, the FTA is irrelevant. State taxpayers got taken, as they did for about $51 million of the $101 million of the NABIs.

Do you have any source for your grant assertions? All I could find via Google was the contract award that this was ~$15.5 million.

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Do you have any source for your grant assertions? All I could find via Google was the contract award that this was ~$15.5 million.

Yes. Here's directly from the CTA...

The Chicago Transit Board approved a $17.2 million contract today for the purchase of up to 125 new buses to be delivered in late 2006. The new 30-foot buses are shorter and narrower than the standard 40-foot buses in CTA's fleet and will be placed on routes where narrow streets or lower peak ridership call for smaller vehicles.

The competitively bid contract with Optima Bus Corporation of Wichita, Kansas, calls for a base order of up to 50 buses. Funding has been provided through a grant from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The contract provides an option for an additional 75 buses.

Full Article

The only thing is this calls for 125(50 base, 75 additional), where we only ordered 45. I would guess the actual grant was probably in the figure of 12-15 million.

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Yes. Here's directly from the CTA...

The Chicago Transit Board approved a $17.2 million contract today for the purchase of up to 125 new buses to be delivered in late 2006. The new 30-foot buses are shorter and narrower than the standard 40-foot buses in CTA's fleet and will be placed on routes where narrow streets or lower peak ridership call for smaller vehicles.

The competitively bid contract with Optima Bus Corporation of Wichita, Kansas, calls for a base order of up to 50 buses. Funding has been provided through a grant from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The contract provides an option for an additional 75 buses.

Full Article

The only thing is this calls for 125(50 base, 75 additional), where we only ordered 45. I would guess the actual grant was probably in the figure of 12-15 million.

You did find it.

But, since it says from the "Regional Transportation Authority" instead of federal funds, my point on the FTA being irrelevant still stands.

And, regardless of what the RTA grant was, as demonstrated above, the contract award was ~$15.5 million.

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